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Hippodrome

Istanbul, Turkey

Hippodrome

Hippodrome was a circus for the sporting and social center of Constantinople. Constantinople was the capital of Byzantine Empire for long years. The name of square is Sultan Ahmet Square today.

Hippodrome was built with the order of Emperor Septimius Severus in AD 203 and was an arena for chariot races and other entertainments.

The Hippodrome of Constantine was about 460 meters long and 140 meters wide and the capacity was around 100,000 spectators. It was constructed U-shaped. The Hippodrome was destroyed by the Fourth Crusade in 1204.

Hippodrome was the center for social life of city. 4 Teams were playing in races and people were bet on chariot races. Each team financially supported by political party within Byzantine Senate: The Blues, the Greens, the Reds and the Whites. The Reds and the Whites gradually weakened and were absorbed by the other two major factions. These chariots were supported by four horses and competed on the racing track of Hippodrome.

The Nika riots of 532 started from here between the Blues and Greens. 30,000 people were killed and many important buildings like 2. Hagia Sofia Church were burnt.

The Turks took over city in 1453 and made this city capital of Ottoman Empire. Muslim people didn’t use Hippodrome for long time except for some circumcision ceremony of the sons of Ahmet III.

Information:
There is no Entrance Fee.
Serpent Column

1. Serpent Column

Constantine and his successors brought works of art from all over the Byzantine Empire to adorn it. Serpent column set up in the middle of Hippodrome and represents the victory of the Greeks over the Persians during the Persian Wars in the 5th century BC. They brought it from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. It had a golden bowl supported by three serpent heads. But these were destroyed and stolen during the Fourth Crusade. It is known as the "Serpentine Column".

Information:
There is no Entrance Fee.
Obelisk of Theodosius

2. Obelisk of Theodosius

Theodosius the Great brought it from Egypt and erected it inside the racing track. It is originally from pink granite and taken from Temple of Karnak in Luxor during the reign of Thutmose III in about 1490 BC. They cut into three pieces and moved to Costantinople. Obelisk is almost 3,500 years old and one of the oldest monument in Istanbul.

Information:
There is no Entrance Fee.
Walled Obelisk

3. Walled Obelisk

The Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus erected another obelisk at the other side of the Hippodrome and dated 10th century. It was covered with gilded bronze plaques. But they were stolen by Latins in the 4th century.

Information:
There is no Entrance Fee.
German Fountain

4. The German Fountain (The Kaiser Wilhelm Fountain)

It is an octagonal domed fountain in neo-Byzantine style and was built by the Germans in 1900. The German Emperor Wilhelm II visited Istanbul and gave as gift to Ottoman Empire because of the great hospitality that he had received. The German Fountain is erected at the northern of entrance of Hippodrome and right near the Sultan Ahmed Mosque.

Information:
There is no Entrance Fee.